Canadian Underwriter

Colorado blizzard insured damages top US$93 million

April 14, 2003   by Canadian Underwriter

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Despite low preliminary estimates, the spring blizzard that hit Colorado is now expected to cost insurers US$93.3 million dollars, says the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA).
Early estimates had the insured loss at just US$33.6 million, but this has tripled, leading to the claim that the March 18-19 blizzard could be the most costly winter storm in the state’s history.
The US$93.3 million estimate remains preliminary as claims continue to be filed, although at a much slower pace than previously. So far, more than 28,000 claims have been reported, with more than 90% of these on homeowners’ policies, and less than 10% on auto claims. The RMIIA notes that most auto claims are not from weather-related accidents, but from vehicles being crushed in the storm.
Wet, heavy snow caused roofs to collapse, as well as porches, awnings, carports and outbuildings. Downed trees, wind damage, snow melt leakage, food spoilage and living expenses for those forced from their homes make up the another significant portion of the losses.
“One of the biggest factors that has impacted the high insurance price tag of this storm is the rising cost to fix and rebuild homes in this current building market,” says Carole Walker, executive director of the RMIIA. “The average cost per homeowner insurance claim is more than US$3,500 and many homes were completely destroyed due to roof collapses and structural damage.”
Previously, the most costly winter storm on record was an October, 1997 blizzard and ice storm causing US$10.5 million in insured damages. However, summer storms are more common, with a July, 1990 hailstorm causing a record US$625 million in insured damage.

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